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Winter Tanner 20 report

mhowoodby mhowoodJan 10th 2011
Winter Tanner 20 report
Since the Winter Tanner isn't technically a race, I guess this is an Event Report.

I intentionally approached the Winter Tanner fatigued; with a Thursday turbo session, a Friday tempo 10 mile run and long swim on Saturday night, all conspiring to make themselves known. Adding to tired legs, I'd also gambled on a never-before-worn pair of Salomon Speedcross2 that I had only cut the tags off at breakfast. You'd be right to call me an idiot, and I wouldn't advise anyone to approach 20 miles of off-road running this blaze, but I wanted to make things difficult for myself. Why? 'Cause there's an iron distance event to consider later in the year.

Sunday morning, I was up dark and early in time to eat my pre-race Ready Brek with sultanas (seems to work), then de-ice and scrape the car. Yet, I arrived at the car park that is the start and end of this very low key affair, I was the last Turbo. Even so, we were all registered and started by 8:20am.

Fellow Thames Turbo member, Colin and I had both said Yes to the 30 mile but by dint of popular consensus and the icy conditions we opted for the 20 miler instead.
Just as well, as within 400 yards of the start I got both feet entangled in a metal hoop that was hidden under leaves. I went down hard. My right knee was bleeding quite badly and I'd torn, what became apparent later, a deep 20p-sized hole in it. While common sense said Call It A Day, I couldn't bring myself to. I decided to keep going, promising Brian to turn back if it became painful. I had on compression tights, so pulled them up around the wound as makeshift bandage. Thanks Turbos for hanging about while I sorted myself out.

Anyone who, like me, has never done the Winter Tanner before is in for a surprise. It's not a marked course, so there's every chance that the bloke in front of you is just as lost. Every direction on the 3 pages of instructions is cause for pause, discussion and more than likely some backtracking. It's slow going.
I stayed with the Turbo group for the first hour, until the top of the first big hill (Box Hill? Mile 4? - haven't downloaded my Garmin yet), and then set off alone. Unsociable bastard that I am.
Now bearing in mind I'd got lost in Regents Park just 2 days before, it was no surprise that I'd gone a half-mile off course within 5 minutes! Being one of the first groups to set off running, this was pretty much the theme for the next 16 miles, as I tried to interpret the directions with an ever thinning number of Ramblers ahead.
There are 2 Checkpoints on the 20 miler, these are fun affairs with lots of chat, juice and biscuits while you refill your water bottle.
I had a brilliant time running through woods, and quad-busting miles climbing hills and wadding through rain drenched fields and muck! It was a great morning out, and a physically and mentally testing course, where-by you may not see another human being for miles at a time, and have to rely on someone else's typed notes to get you home.
This not being a race, there is no tshirt or fanfare at the end and you merely give your number to the nice lady sitting in her car, who notes it and the time on her watch. Job done. Go home.

Overall, an excellent and testing route with stunning scenery, and friendly aid stations all stocked with jelly babies, jaffa cakes and garibaldis! Yum.

Anyone wanting to 'run' it next year I'd aim to start around 9:30, this should give you enough Ramblers to follow for the majority of the distance and all the checkpoints will be open. Trail shoes are a must. I passed a couple at mile 12 coming back because it was too wet for their trainers!

2012 > Sunday 8th. It's going in the diary.

Kit-wise, my shiny new Salomon Speedcross2 were thankfully superb, and I came through 21.5 miles blister free. My Garmin 310XT proved indispensable in gauging distance between points, and my iPhone has a compass when directions later involved degrees. Nutritionally I got it just about right, for an outing taking almost 4 hours, 2 bottles of Nuun and 6 gels and returned to the finish/car park with only a PowerBar uneaten.

Briefly back to that little mishap at the start. I can see the advantage of leg shaving now, as although my knee never really gave me much trouble during the event, by the end the tights were dried to my leg with blood. Only way to get them off was to wear them in the bath - it looked like it was filled with chum! Knee's pretty swollen now, I'm hoping it's okay, so swimming only this week.
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